There comes a time for everyone when we are not consumed by any life event. The boring, mundane plateaus bracketed by Himalayan highs and Mariana-esque lows which fills us with restless energy, not knowing where to focus our attention on. Most of us in the end, end up day-dreaming and introspecting. This is one such episode.
What is this happiness? Can it be measured? Is it the outcome of an event? If so, can we rank these events in order of happiness?
I believe happiness is based on our interests. An event which makes me happy, invariably could make someone else sad. (Take the case of winners and losers of any sport. One event, two opposite reactions.) Happiness, and the level of happiness is dependent on me and not the event as such.
This is a simple way to rule out the case of Objective Happiness.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who said that he believed happiness was an objective entity. It brings up the question: Is it possible to assign the happiest moment in your life? I have talked to a few people about this and most were unable to tell their happiest moment (except Mr. Objective Happiness) but were able to tell me their saddest moment quickly. This was interesting. In theory, since both are opposites of each other, if we don’t remember one, we ought to not remember the other. Apparently, that is not the case. Sadness and negative emotions are much strongly remembered, which led me to think: Can we think of happiness as the relative absence of ‘sadness’?
The problem with that approach is that there is no standard against which we can compare our happiness level. It would be insanely tough for instance to compare the birth of your child to getting your dream job (for example). Even events such as having lunch or went to school, which are trivial of many of us, may be a huge happy event for those who do not have access to it.
Everyone has their own priorities in life and unless you live in an idealized society where everyone is stripped off their innate emotions and replaced with a set code, such objectivity is simply not possible.
But what is the need for objectivity in emotions? As mentioned above, objectivity would just remove all human-ness in us. Machines are objective. The problem is that as we head deeper into modernity, somehow, we want things to be more standardised; more predictable. We are scared of surprises. We want the pleasant ones but are willing to sacrifice them to get fewer unpleasant ones. We prefer a mundane life, even though we keep talking about our life being mundane. Genuine laughs, innocent smiles have been supplanted by courtesy smiles and smirks. Risk-free is the norm, risk-takers are looked down upon.
We settle, we stop reaching.
Happiness is what you want it to be, it has no definition, it’s a feel. And this feel has become depressingly artificial over time. I envisage a world where there is more unpredictability and tolerance for the unpredictable. There’s no use in holding back just bacuse something is risky. As they say in business, “Higher the risk, higher the return”.
Sure it could result in some hard times and disappointment, sure there might be huge backlash; but the moment you fight and succeed, the moment when you reap your reward, that is simply priceless.
That is Happiness.